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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 25 October 2013

Top News from the European Commission
26 October – 22 November 2013

Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
The European Commission reserves the right to make changes

Monday 28 – Tuesday 29 October: Commissioner Hahn hosts 2nd Annual Forum on Danube Strategy in Bucharest 2

Monday 4 November: Commission will propose new measures to reduce use of plastic bags 4

Tuesday 5 November: Autumn European Economic Forecast 6

Monday 28 – Tuesday 29 October: Commissioner Hahn hosts 2nd Annual Forum on Danube Strategy in Bucharest

The news:

14 countries from Europe's Danube "macro region" will gather for this year's Danube Forum in Bucharest on Monday and Tuesday, October 28 and 29. Hosted by EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn and Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the Forum will discuss how to strengthen the impact of the EU's Danube Strategy to tackle some of the region's most pressing challenges like energy security and pollution, crime, missing transport links to lack of competitiveness and the brain drain.

The background:

The meeting comes after the recent endorsement by EU Member States of the European Commission's evaluation report on the added value of the macroregional strategies which delivered a positive verdict on the macroregional approach.

The debate also comes at a crucial stage of the negotiations for the future programmes 2014-2020. "I count on the Member States to ensure that the Danube Strategy is properly embedded in the future generation of programmes under regional policy 2014-2020, as well as other relevant EU, regional and national policy frameworks" said Commissioner Hahn in the run-up to the meeting.

The EU's Danube Strategy was launched on April 2011. It involves 9 EU countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and 5 non-EU countries (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldova). Designed to coordinate European Union policies across the Danube macroregion, it is based on the idea that common challenges faced by specific regions – whether environmental, economic or security related – are best tackled collectively. By involving EU neighbouring countries at an equal level, the Danube Strategy also brings the countries in the Western Balkans, Moldova and the regions of the Ukraine closer to the Union.

The event:

Monday 28 October – Tuesday 29 October: 2nd Annual Forum on Danube Strategy in Bucharest, hosted by Commissioner Hahn and PM Ponta.

The 2nd Annual Forum "Danube Region – stronger together, stronger in the world" will bring together over 800 representatives from the private sector, regional businesses, civil society, academia and media in the Danube Region as well as many policy makers.

Foreign and Regional Development Ministers will join Commissioner Hahn to take stock of current achievements and challenges, assess progress to date and reflect on the future implementation of the Danube Strategy.

There will be also information events for the press on Monday, 28 October:

13.30 p.m.: Press Statement by Commissioner Johannes Hahn and PM Victor Ponta at Victoria Palace

15.00 p.m.: Joint Press Conference of Commissioner Hahn with Foreigner Affairs Minister Corlatean at Palace of the Parliament, Nicolae Balcescu Hall, Strada Izvor 2-4

The sources:

A press release (IP) will be published on Friday via RAPID.

  1. Video and photo coverage will be available on Ebs

European Union Strategy for the Danube Region

2nd Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, Bucharest

Conference Programme and Webstreaming

1st report on the implementation of the Strategy (April 2013)

Evaluation Report concerning the added value of macro-regional strategies

Twitter: @EU_Regional @JHahnEU #EUSDR #Danube

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65 mobile: +32460766565

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10 mobile: +32460793310

Monday 4 November: Commission will propose new measures to reduce use of plastic bags

The news:

The European Commission will put forward on 4 November a proposal that aims to reduce the use of single-use plastic carrier bags. Through an amendment of Directive 94/62/EC on packaging or packaging waste, Member States will have the flexibility to choose between a number of measures, including charges, national reduction targets and a ban.

Every year, the average EU citizen uses approximately 500 plastic carrier bags, most of them only once. The total volume of plastic carrier bags produced in Europe in 2008 was 3.4 million tonnes, which equals the weight of over 2 million passenger cars. The low weight and small size of plastic bags means they often escape waste management and end up in the marine environment, where their eventual decay can take hundreds of years.

Some Member States have already taken action to reduce the use of plastic carrier bags through pricing measures, agreements with the retail sector and bans on certain types of bags, but no specific measures exist at the EU level. In March 2011 EU environment ministers discussed the environmental impact of plastic carrier bags and the concerns they raised indicated that effective EU action is needed.

The proposal builds on feedback from stakeholders gathered during a public consultation in summer 2011.

The background:

The longevity of plastic bags means that there are now some 250 billion plastic particles with a combined weight of 500 tonnes floating in the Mediterranean Sea alone. These particles can cause suffocation in sea creatures that ingest them accidentally or mistake them for food. Plastics break into tiny particles, and have a high potential for contaminating soil and waterways as they may contain additives such as persistent organic pollutants.

The event:

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik will give a press conference and there will be a press release.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

More details about Directive 94/62/EC on packaging or packaging waste:

Commissioner Potočnik's website:

The contacts:

Joseph Hennon +32 2 295 35 93

Monica Westerén +32 2 299 18 30

Tuesday 5 November: Autumn European Economic Forecast

The news:

On 5 November, the European Commission will publish its annual autumn economic forecast covering the period 2013-2015. The forecast will include data on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, employment and public budget deficits and debt, amongst others. These forecasts focus on all 28 EU Member States, plus the candidate countries Turkey, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as other non-EU countries such as USA, Japan, China and Russia.

The background:

The European Commission produces macroeconomic forecasts three times year: in the spring, autumn and winter. They serve as a basis for various fiscal and macroeconomic surveillance procedures, such as in the context of the European Semester.

The autumn forecast will provide a clearer picture of Member States' compliance with the Council of Ministers' Recommendations both under the Stability and Growth Pact and the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure. In this context, the forecasts will feed into the Commission's fiscal, budgetary and macroeconomic assessments due mid-November.

The event:

Press Conference at 11:00 with Vice-President Rehn in the Berlaymont Press Room in Brussels. Press release with a link to the report will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Spring European Economic Forecast (published 3 May 2013): IP/13/396

European Commission websites:

The contacts:

Simon O'Connor + 32 2 296 7359 simon.o'

Vandna Kalia + 32 2 299 5824

Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 1607

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